Acquisition, Utilisation and the Impact of Patent and Market Information on Innovation Activities

Torsti Loikkanen, Jari Konttinen, Jukka Hyvönen, Laura Ruotsalainen, Kirsi Tuominen, Mika Waris, Veli-Pekka Hyttinen, Olli Ilmarinen

Research output: Book/ReportReport


Knowledge and information are ever increasing strategic assets for enterprises. The main outcome of this study shows that there are many special grounds for intensifying the acquisition and utilisation of patent and market information in Finnish SMEs. This also holds true for the development and supply of information services. The analysis about the overlapping of research and development activities uncovered an important finding: 33% of Finnish patent applications between years 2000-2005 were not granted to patents because of obstacles for novelty, i.e. the patent application was filed for an already published invention. This duplication of effort could have been avoided by utilising already existing information. The same result may also be generalised to the whole innovation process. Thus, the topic of this study is a strategic issue for the national innovation policy. Other international studies about the amount of overlapping of research and development activities give similar results. The concrete recommendations of the study are aimed at systematically improving the utilisation of information as well as improving the production of services and dissemination of information. The patent system is an information dissemination system which brings new technical information for the society to utilise. A patent is an exclusive right granted to the inventor for a given period of time; in exchange the inventor has to allow the publication of his invention. Patent documents are the most extensive global information resource of a uniform quality in technology and science. They give you global information about research results, new products and production methods and markets. Many of the widely recognised success factors for new product performance share a common thread: capabilities for gathering and utilising market information. Market information means all the information that a company needs about its operational environment, from trends in lines of business and developments in the markets up to profiles of customers, competitors and potential partners. Besides patent documents, there are a number of market information sources, both liable to charge and free-of-charge. The background covers theoretical and empirical points of view about information and innovation. The following subjects are covered: economic grounds for innovation policy and public financing of research, evaluation of socially optimal investments in research, and hypotheses about under- or over-investment in research. Empirical studies support the hypothesis about under-investment - giving the society the right to finance research and development. The hypothesis about over-investment is linked to unhealthy overlapping of research and development activities. Overlapping research may be either healthy or unhealthy. It is unhealthy if resources are used for research already done, with the results being already freely available and exploitable. Investing in unhealthy research means wasting the resources of both enterprises and society as a whole. How do small and medium-sized enterprises utilise existing information and information services? We searched for answers in two studies. One study was about acquisition, utilisation and impacts of patent and market information in the innovation activities of SMEs. In the other study we charted the services produced by domestic information services to support innovation, from the point of view of SMEs. SMEs do not utilise external information systematically. They regard market information as important, but finding the right reliable information is difficult. SMEs do not see the patenting system as a system for disseminating information. They neither consider patent information important nor are able to utilise it. There are not many services specially targeted at SMEs - mainly due to poor demand - and productising services are still poor, too. The results show that SMEs mostly rely on public actors in searching for external information. It is very challenging to assess and analyse the impact of patent and market information as part of an innovation process. The study raises important needs for future research. Innovation activities in enterprises are changing, due to the changing trends in innovation dynamics. The most important of these include the globalisation of research and innovation, the growing importance of co-operation and networking, and the openness of innovation. Future studies should aim at disentangling the impacts that such changes have on the companies' IPR strategies and practices. On innovation policy level, we need to examine changes in patenting and the whole IPR system. The characteristics and contents of overlapping patent applications - an investigation which was started here - deserve a more detailed study in the future. The authors of this study suggest the following subjects: differences in branches of business and in lines of technology, profiles of the different groups of inventors, and special characteristics in the size of companies. Another important subject would be to find out if overlapping research is mainly done in companies which are not within public financing of R&D.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages76
ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7297-7
ISBN (Print)978-951-38-7296-0
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesVTT Tiedotteita - Research Notes


  • patent and market information
  • innovation
  • innovation process
  • duplication of R&D


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